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Montana 2021 Legislature

Montana Lawmakers Consider Education Spending From Latest Federal Stimulus

Montana Public Affairs Network
Montana Rep. Frank Garner discusses House Bill 632 during a House Appropriations Committee meeting March 23, 2021.

Montana lawmakers Tuesday began to debate how to spend the state’s $3 billion share of the latest federal coronavirus stimulus package.

Kalispell Republican Rep. Frank Garner told the House Appropriations Committee that many steps remain before the spending plan is a finished product.

“You have before you the skeleton, and we’re going to continue to try to mold and shape it as it goes to try to make sure that it’s the best product to serve the citizens of Montana,” Garner says.

Lawmakers are first considering education spending proposals, including nearly $400 million for the Montana Office of Public Instruction. Ninety percent of that money would go to school districts in the form of grants based on low-income student populations.

Meanwhile, the Montana University System is requesting $15 million for a handful of projects, including workforce training and cybersecurity education programs.

The House Appropriations Committee will consider proposals in other areas throughout the week, with plans to assemble the complete package in House Bill 632 by Friday.

Kevin Trevellyan is Yellowstone Public Radio's Report for America statehouse reporter.